In early June, Apple held their annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where they showcased the number of innovative software features to come with their new operating system iOS15 and while most of these software updates are useful for the end user, they’ve unfortunately implemented a new feature called Mail Privacy Protection which can make email marketing data such as open rates much more unreliable to use.
Apple hasn’t given us an official date for this update, but we can expect the new operating system to come alongside a new lineup of iPhones around mid September.
Features Included in Mail Privacy Protection
There are 2 toggles that Apple users will have access to in the Mail Privacy Protection tab following the iOS 15 update:
- Users will be able to mask their IP addresses and make it impossible to pinpoint their precise location
- Users will be able to hide their open data from senders in the native iPhone Mail app
In addition to this, Apple is also expected to put a lot more emphasis on the already available proxy mail feature which allows users to use a disposable email address when setting up an account rather than their primary, everyday email which can make it more difficult to build up a customer’s profile.
How This Will Affect Email Marketing Data
There is still hope for open data since not everyone uses an Apple device and with these changes only applying to the native iOS Mail app, open data could still be available for other email apps like Gmail.
In addition to this, Apple isn’t forcing these protection features to their users, so some people may decide to not enable the Mail Privacy protection features.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that after the iOS15 update is released, open data will be too unreliable to make use of.
The way that Apple intends to hide their users’ open data is by downloading and caching images (including invisible pixel trackers) as soon as an email is received. This will make it seem as though all your emails were opened and give you a much higher open rate than what you actually would’ve had.
Other tech giant companies like Google are also expected to follow this privacy protection trend so it’s probably best that you accept the end of open data now and consider focusing your efforts elsewhere before these changes become the norm because once this does become the norm, it will be much harder to keep track of certain email marketing data.
Marketing metrics that rely on open rates such as retention and re-engagement marketing, segmentation based on engagement and list hygiene (a metric that gauges the demand of your emails from your recipients) will certainly be more difficult to measure without open rate data, but it’s important to stay positive and adapt to these changes.
How to Adapt to These Changes
Besides using open rates, there are a number of other metrics that you can and should be focusing on so that you’ll have reliable data to go on once open rates are no longer available. Two of these baseline metrics are clicks and deliverability.
What’s the point of knowing your open data if a proportion of your emails aren’t even being delivered in the first place?
✔️ You want to make sure that your emails aren’t seen as spam and filtered out. To do this, you should segment your emails.
Try to separate iOS Mail users from other email types such as gmail and try to maximise your open rates now while you can still measure them so that you at least have some data to go on before iOS15 is released.
You should also try to use any other data available to you and segment your subscribers accordingly.
Purchases, sign up dates, engagement from your emails and how subscribers behave on your sites are all valuable forms of data that you can use to further segment your emails to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing.
✔️ While doing this, you should also make your emails as engaging as possible to get those prized clicks.
Clicks are one of the most reliable forms of data that we can measure (even more so than open data) and it shows when a user is still active.
Next, you should try experimenting with your emails.
✔️ By creating long and short emails and variating your content, you can start to narrow down what actually works and who they work for.
✔️ You should also get more first party data straight from your subscribers through things like sign ups and you should make sure they know that you only want extra information so you can help to improve their overall experience with you. A tool like Octane AI allows you to create conversational popups and quizzes to get more information from visitors to your website.
You can also use this strategy to obtain your subscribers whereabouts so that you can continue to provide location specific emails once IP addresses become unavailable through emails.
Once you have more data about your subscribers, you can start sending personalized emails to further encourage engagement from your emails.
✔️ Another strategy that you could use, if you haven’t already, is to use SMS and Messenger marketing alongside your email marketing to reach out to your subscribers. Even though SMS doesn’t have any form of tracking pixel to measure open rates, it has still shown to be extremely useful due to its much higher open and conversion rate. With Messenger, you can measure open rates which is a great way to enagage your audience beyond their email inbox and with timely, relevant content.
A Handy Checklist To Prep For The Changes
We have put together the various steps you need to take to ensure that your email marketing is not negatively affectd by the iOS15 changes.
Open data and geolocation email marketing through IP addresses may be coming to a close, but you can still rest assured knowing that email marketing is nowhere near its end.
Email marketing has constantly evolved throughout the years and this isn’t the first hurdle to affect it, and it certainly won’t be the last.
If you can adapt to these changes and put your focus in the right areas (clicks, deliverability and segmentation of your emails), you should be able to not only find profitability and success through your email marketing, but also improve the quality and engagement of your emails as a whole which surely is a good thing.